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VIDEO: Trump announces details of merit-based immigration overhaul

U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Sept. 5, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
May 16, 2019

President Donald Trump delivered remarks from the Rose Garden on Thursday regarding a new proposal to overhaul the United States’ immigration system.

“Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker,” Trump said. “It will help all of our people, including millions of devoted immigrants to achieve the American dream.”

“Our plan achieves two critical goals: first it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border, and second, it establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world,” he explained.

The immigration system would be transformed from one that relies on a visa lottery and family connections, to a point-based merit system that prioritizes those with the most value to the American economy.

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“Under the senseless rules of the current system, we’re not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world,” Trump said.

“As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low wage and low skilled. Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on our safety net and generous welfare programs,” he added. “Only 12 percent of illegal immigrants are selected based on skill or merit.”

Trump assured that the number of green cards granted each year wouldn’t change, but the criteria for them would change.

The plan replaces existing green card categories with a “Build America Visa” and shifts to a points-based selection system. More points are awarded to those who are younger and can contribute longer to the U.S. More points will also be awarded to those who have valuable skills or advanced education, as well as those who plan to create jobs.

Trump also revealed that the plan would require immigrants to learn English and pass a civics exam in order to promote assimilation.

Trump noted that the plan was not designed by politicians, but rather by law enforcement who face the immigration crisis firsthand and know what is needed to confront the issue.

Among the border security measures promoted by the plan is a larger investment in technology to scan everything that comes across the border, something that is not currently in practice.

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Further, a trust fund would be developed with revenues generated from border crossing fees, which would add to the border security funding.

The plan would also remove incentives from smuggling women and children, expedite legitimate asylum claims, and screen out fraudulent claims with swift deportations to those who abuse the process. Further, the plan would close loopholes in the federal law and declare gang members inadmissible, as well as to deport criminals already in the county.

On Wednesday, reports surfaced indicating that Trump would announce his immigration overhaul plan on Thursday, and already critics have come out in opposition of the plan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the plan “condescending,” CBS News reported.

“They say family is without merit — are they saying most of the people that come to the United States in the history of our country are without merit, because they don’t have an engineering degree?” Pelosi asked.

The plan isn’t likely to gain Democrat support as it lacks protection for “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.